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E-waste recycler Eric Lundgren loses appeal, must serve 15-month sentence and pay $50,000...

By Shawn Knight · 37 replies
Apr 25, 2018
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  1. Eric Lundgren, the well-known e-waste recycler at the center of a counterfeit software dispute with Microsoft, has come up short in a federal appeals court. As a result, he will have to serve a 15-month prison sentence and pay a fine of $50,000.

    As The Washington Post recounts, Lundgren ran afoul with U.S. customs officials in 2012 after attempting to ship 28,000 Microsoft operating system restore discs to a broker in Florida. Lundgren and the broker, Robert Wolff, reportedly planned to sell the restore discs to computer refurbishing shops for around $0.25 each.

    Restore discs are typically provided for free with the purchase of a new computer and are useful if the OS installation becomes corrupt or otherwise gets wiped. What’s more, the software is available free to download for those with a valid license.

    Lundgren’s through was that people often lose the restore discs or throw them out; others simply don’t know that the software can be downloaded for free or perhaps they feel intimidated by the process. He wanted to provide repair shops with discs so they could supply them to customers without having to burn them themselves.

    Lundgren was eventually indicted on a charge of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and criminal copyright infringement. He pleaded guilty but argued that the discs had no value because they could only be used by those already in possession of a valid Windows license and thus, nobody was harmed. Federal prosecutors disagreed and although each disc was initially valued at $299, they later settled on a value of $25 each which works out to $700,000 for the lot.

    Following the appeals court ruling on April 11, Lundgren told The Washington Post that he has accepted that he is going to prison. “What I’m not okay with is people not understanding why I’m going to prison. Hopefully my story can shine some light on the e-waste epidemic we have in the United States, how wasteful we are. At what point do people stand up and say something? I didn’t say something, I just did it.”

    Microsoft issued the following statement to The Verge regarding the matter:

    “Microsoft actively supports efforts to address e-waste and has worked with responsible e-recyclers to recycle more than 11 million kilograms of e-waste since 2006. Unlike most e-recyclers, Mr. Lundgren sought out counterfeit software which he disguised as legitimate and sold to other refurbishers. This counterfeit software exposes people who purchase recycled PCs to malware and other forms of cybercrime, which puts their security at risk and ultimately hurts the market for recycled products.”

    Permalink to story.

  2. ForgottenLegion

    ForgottenLegion TS Guru Posts: 365   +366

    I'm sorry, did I miss something?
    The article makes it seem as though he was trying to ship genuine Microsoft restore discs but the Microsoft statement states "Mr. Lundgren sought out counterfeit software which he disguised as legitimate".
    TempleOrion likes this.
  3. JackTheBear

    JackTheBear TS Rookie Posts: 20   +13

    Clearly we're not being told the whole story. WaPo calls them "the restore disks he made" and "disks made by Eric Lundgren". I think if he was shipping original Dell/HP/whatever restore disks, he would have been ok, but once he started copying and distributing knock off restore disks, he started taking money out of Microsoft's pocket.
  4. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,620   +2,353

    Any guy that wears one of those stupid little hats is not to be trusted. That said, its absurd that he's going to prison for what amounts to charging a handling fee for redistributing FREE disks. Yes, we all know that restore discs were only meant to be used with the PC they came with..and we also know that NOBODY ever cared. A fine would be more than sufficient, but here in the US of A you go to prison for violating ToS on software and get a free ride for sneaking into the country and working off the books.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  5. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 3,921   +1,157

    Was the Microsoft statement proven in court or was it merely their POV?
  6. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,440   +1,434

    The fact that the fool is going to prison seems to indicate that it was.... You can't sell stuff with a company's name on it without permission or paying royalties regardless of the worth of the items... He was a fool to ever think what he was doing was legal - and I suspect he knew exactly what he was doing and thought he'd get away with it...
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,686   +3,846

    Every notice I've ever bothered to read, stated that copying protected material even without expectation of monetary gain was illegal.
  8. Stay away from miscro$oft junk as far as possible. Linux is free, open source & a lot less resource hungry, so you can run it on older hardware. You will not be force to "up"grade your OS or your hardware by any Linux distro maker. You would never get into trouble for copying and/or giving away free Linux install media (as long as u do it for free). When will their obsolete business model go out of style??? FOSS all the way baby (yes I will have a Linux phone soon too ;-)
  9. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,440   +1,434

    Yeah... the new business model is to give things away for free... tons of money to be made there... meanwhile, MS made over $6 Billion in profits last quarter... you tell them their business model is obsolete :)
    TempleOrion likes this.
  10. "At what point do people stand up and say something? I didn’t say something, I just did it.”
    Guess acting first and dealing with the fallout later didn't work out so well in this case.
    Judge didn't buy "I Did It My Way" Guess he'll have 14 months to ponder the lyrics
  11. dj2017

    dj2017 TS Maniac Posts: 156   +154

    Did they found malwares in the discs, if not, then Microsoft's reply is stupid at best, an example of hypocrisy, to be more honest, at worst.
  12. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,440   +1,434

    Um... how do you figure? The software belongs to MS - their name is on it... unless they get someone to scan through each and every line of code on each and every disc, they can't know for sure if anything has been modified... If anything were to go wrong, however, everyone would be blaming them as it's THEIR software...

    The simple law is, "you can't sell something that doesn't belong to you". He did... so he's going to jail.
  13. woofer

    woofer TS Enthusiast Posts: 42   +7

    Linux/GNU/FOSS concept is not for "business models"; it's a concept for freedom from commercial big tech (as much as possible...), such as those who want to monetize our privacy. Gotta start somewhere....
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
  14. woofer

    woofer TS Enthusiast Posts: 42   +7

    Now he can learn how to be a professional criminal in "prison school".

    Seems a community service type sentence would have been more appropriate - something useful like, say, supporting digital literacy in inner cities with refurbished PC's - oh, wait...
    dj2017 and TempleOrion like this.
  15. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,703   +2,070

    I run openSuSE and have been for a long time - perhaps 15-years or more. Updates for any particular release are only available for 18-months. After that, you do not get the latest patches.

    While technically this is not forcing anyone to update, anyone who does not update is facing potential security problems.

    That said, I updated this last weekend, and the update was totally painless - and I have customized some of the software. They finally have their update process well-refined.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  16. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,703   +2,070


    To me, his actions seem unethical in that he was charging for something that you can get for free from M$.

    As I see it , this is yet another example of what seems to be more prominent these days in that some think the law is whatever they make the law instead of what has been made law by government at various levels.
  17. James00007

    James00007 TS Booster Posts: 115   +13

    Not sure about Linux but with MS thousands of people update and get a bricked PC or at least more problems than before they updated. This may require hours maybe days of troubleshooting or professional repair. I'll stick without the updates and be aware of the dangers online over the problems these updates can bring. Until MS go back to letting us choose to turn off updates and choose which we want, like we used to be able to do, I won't be trusting them to slam my PC with a bunch of trouble.
  18. lazer

    lazer TS Addict Posts: 230   +53

    Something doesn't make sense. to get a jail sentence and fine for something that seems legal to me?
  19. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,363   +606

    Evidently it's not legal. Seems legal and actually legal are two different things. If it was legal, I'm sure his attorney or attorneys would have thought to point it out. :)
    Squid Surprise likes this.
  20. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,440   +1,434

    Why does this seem legal to you?!? He sold stuff that doesn’t belong to him. In what world is that legal?!?
    wiyosaya likes this.
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,686   +3,846

    @wiyosaya Well, I get to evaluate Mr. Lundgren, since I believe I'm the only one here who carried this entire conversation on with the man himself.

    Since I didn't agree with everything he said, chapter and verse, I was of course, branded an internet troll. Well, nuttin' new there, ay?

    In any event, Mr. Lundgren is delusional, and bordering on being a pathological liar.

    Anybody, in their right mind, would interpret Dell's, EULA, in regard to offering free restore software and assistance, to be intended for rightful owners of Dell computers, not some bizarre adaption of "since it's free, that means I can copy it, and sell as many copies of it as I desire"..

    Whether him presenting as delusional, is, or rather was, just an intense rehearsal of how he believed he would be able to bury the US Court of appeals in hip deep bullsh!t, is conjecture on my part. However, he did manage to convince himself that he was the one true guide, on the path to piety and restraint in the computer business.

    More briefly, his one huge fantasy and stumbling block, was the he was, "a movement unto himself", preparing to save the world from planned obsolescence and "Ewaste", because nobody was even able to grasp that these issues were problems, save for him.

    And well, he told that story so many times to himself, I honestly think he believed it.

    M$ was the only software publisher to take up arms against him, but in reality, any of the many owners of "value added" software in Dell's restore package, could have filed copyright complaints as well.

    His one real intellectual stumbling block, was that he believes customers don't want "planned obsolescence", in the products they purchase, only corporations producing electronics do.. Well, the lines at Apple stores each a new iPhone is released should be proof positive, that customers do want faster, prettier, and more feature laden products ASAP, not when Mr. Lundgren believes they should be rationed out to them.

    So, in his Quixotic fantasy world, Mr. Lundgren doesn't even have the good sense or taste to tilt at windmills, but rather Chinese electronics dumps, and my goodness, his horse could break a leg charging through that crap.

    And besides, windmills are in style again, as sources of clean, renewable energy.

    Like I said earlier, it takes more than one individual to constitute a movement, whether it be civil rights, sexual harassment, or whomever's "life matters". Somehow that reality got lost in the jumbled wasteland of Lundgren's mind.

    If John Dean could survive one of the"club fed's", I'm sure Mr. Lundgren can also. With no priors, a short, (by federal standards), sentence, and a non violent offense, he's a good candidate for a camp setting. Perhaps the prison counselors and therapists will be able to talk some sense into him. Should that be the case, he'll be the better for his "all expenses paid vacation,", courtesy of Uncle Sam.

    EDIT: Probably the best way to sum up Mr. Lundgren is to categorize him as a "fanatic", and as with any other radical belief system's methodology, he has adapted and modified the facts to suit his agenda
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
    wiyosaya likes this.
  22. Girus

    Girus TS Member

    And what am I supposed to do with a Linux exactly? Can it run the latest versions of photoshop and lightroom? What about video editing? Can I use steam to play all my favourite games? Does it support Internet Explorer?
  23. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,703   +2,070

    Did a few W10 updates last year and they bricked the PC that I did them on. I do an image backup before I update, so it was a trivial matter for me to revert.

    EDIT: The update that I mentioned in my post was of openSuSE Linux, though, not Windows. I have pro versions of 10 and have used the group policy editor to disable automatic updates. I have a laptop running W10 home, and have disabled the Windows Update service. This has solved, IMO, more problems than it has created - plus, that laptop is connected to the internet maybe once every six months or so.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  24. Try WINE on Linux for Adobe, video editor could be OpenShot and I have been an avid Steam on Linux player for some time. There are native Linux games on Steam others, such as Skyrim, can be installed under WINE. ;-)
  25. To update troubles: BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP (meaning 3 different forms of backup). Updates breaking OSs are ubiquitous and can happen on any platform

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